Tuesday, October 22, 2013

O Pen : October 21

Elegy for Muncey-- Jim Daniels
Pursuits – Heather Christle
Personally Engraved -- Alice Fulton
Why Regret – Galway Kinnell
Postscript by Seamus Heaney

Jim Daniels, like Philip Levine, comes from Detroit, champions the working class -- but what does that say about his poetry? The poem selected today gave us plenty to discuss -- from the title, "Elegy" which often is a controlled statement, to the epigraph linked to the final lines. "Anything less than death is a minor accident",
quote of the Muncey for whom this elegy is written. Looping a long sentence in short lines, where the end words are in competition for where they place their weight in the phrases, the poem falls into two sentences, the first skimming into 20 lines. Our conversation went from a description of rooster tails, memories of the Detroit river,
and the way the poem was both gruff in a "shirts-off-drunk" rowdy way, and tender. Is Muncey to be cheered,
crowd-style making a statement, calling a hero,or the last name said quietly, softly, echoing the words "blessed".
Roostertail and angel/ death dancing/... a very unusual and moving way to pay tribute to this hydroplane champion who died in an accident in Acapulco, and the impact one human being can have.

Pursuits, in the October issue of Poetry also provided a long discussion -- how "it is" has a surprising power to introduce, predict, perhaps confirm a feeling, in this case, called forth by snow, juxtaposed by that called forth by commerce. Conversation touched on Wordsworth, Keats, and the glory of what words can do.
Snow / not beginning: perhaps a touch of eternal
the difference of being "in" the snow vs. to be "of" the snow... and memories of innocent play...
It is not... It is... Everywhere... It only gets worse. What would you thread into this progression?
table: as chart as well as where one sits to be nurtured; repetition of the word "touch"...and a sense of many hungers -- that cannot satisfy as they are not yours. Wonderful poem to set one thinking about human experience, our complaints, wishes, and what it is that we do or refuse to compromise.

We would like to invite Alice Fulton to come up to Rochester and speak to us! 3 fine poems in the October issue of Poetry -- all of which embrace the idea of "new" -- which "... will benew / whether you make it new / or not.
Almost cliche, twists on expected phrases, witty "please state" which sounds like "police state"
hardscape (not landscape, seascape, city-scape, inscape) but the scraping of art to machine.
We chuckled through it, admiring the notes of sarcasm, contradictions, texture of phrases such as "all you need is
a chain saw and die grinder". And what is a dedicated ice maker / dedicated to? Visions of ice-sculpture contests, or of frosty personalities at a town meeting with Uriah Heep rubbing his hands. What is the role of you?
As for the scarf on the snowman, indeed, it separates head from heart... What is engraved? And how do you use "personally" in advertising, as if it would matter?

Buzkashi took us to a discussion of horse racing, Kipling's ballads and Afghan and British traditions!
The she-goat and woman intertwine -- the heat drives a man "in the ground like a stake" while the mountains watch, "still in the "milk broth of oblivion". Enigmatic and unsettling.

We will discuss "Why Regret" next week having spent an hour discussing just these three.
Postscript as title is intriguing: is it the words below it? What is the context? There is a touchy excitement starting a poem with "And..." -- the diction and lilt of the first 11 lines are cut short by the next sentence:
useless to think you'll park and capture it.. that "it" again -- that wildness, that opportunity not taken. The final line takes us to a here-and-now that cannot be pinned down -- a blend of familiar and strange...
"as big soft buffetings come at the car sideways / and catch the heart off guard and blow it open".
Wind, encounter, accident, the mystery is there, and for me, the urge to check the heart.

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